August 7, 2014
I grew up in a big salad-eating family. We ate a salad with every meal, and I loved it. Of course, it was iceberg lettuce, with shredded carrot and red cabbage on top, but I thought it was soooooo good. At my grandparent’s house I loved it because it was drenched in this dressing, which we called “Grandpa’s French.” I never knew where he got the recipe, or if he came up with it himself, and I had no idea what was in it other than oil, vinegar, paprika and a clove of garlic. So I was never able to recreate it. For years we ate salads with just plain oil and vinegar, or with Newman’s Italian (for a store-bought dressing, it’s pretty good). Then, right after I had Desmond, my Aunt Judy and mom somehow found this recipe in my vintage Betty Crocker cookbook. If I remember this correctly (I was in the “new mom haze’), we all agreed that it sounded just like Grandpa’s French! So we made it. Lo and behold, it tasted like Grandpa’s French! Could it be? He got the recipe from a cookbook?? I always imagined that it was some culinary genius that he came up with on his own. But of course, it’s from Betty Crocker. That was my grandma’s cookbook. She was a “Betty Crocker” loyalist (vs. my Granny, who was in the “Better Homes and Gardens” camp).
I’ve been making this dressing for us ever since. We haven’t bought dressing in YEARS…once you know the formula for a good vinaigrette, there’s really no point in buying dressing. It’s 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar (or citrus juice, like lemon or lime), and spices. Every once in awhile, I’ll make some other kind, but for the most part, we always have this in the cabinet (and yes, we keep it in the cabinet and not the fridge, just like my grandparents did). This dressing is always a hit with everyone that tries it…I’m constantly getting asked for the recipe. So I thought I should probably post it. I wish I had a photo of my son drinking it out of the bowl after he finishes his salad…he likes it THAT MUCH.
Grandpa Major’s French Dressing
3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika (Grandpa used regular, but I like the flavor of smoked)
1 tsp dried mustard
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, whole*
Place all ingredients in a jar or dressing bottle, place lid on it and shake until completely combined. It’s best to make it at least a few hours before using, even better the day before, so the flavors have a chance to infuse.
*I prefer putting a whole garlic clove in, rather than mincing it. My aunt minces it before putting it in. It’s your call…but, Grandpa put it in whole, for what it’s worth. 🙂
July 22, 2014
We love green bean salads in the summer here at S&SK, so when I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it. Plus, it reminded me of the long forgotten 3-bean salad of my growing up. So long forgotten that I kept wracking my brain as to what the 3rd bean was. I knew it included canned green beans and canned kidney beans, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember the 3rd bean. So of course I googled it and saw that it was wax beans! So if you want this recipe to look like the classic but taste 21st century, you could make it with green and wax beans (at farmer’s markets up here right now) and kidney beans. 🙂 We served this with potato salad and grilled meats. Yum!
Margaux says . . .
We loved this recipe! I’m always looking for new ways to prepare green beans because it is a family favorite. The flavor in this salad is amazing, with the capers, herbs, shallot and lemon. I used canned cannellini beans. I served it with California burgers and corn on the cob…perfect summer weeknight meal.
BEAN SALAD adapted from Bon Appetit
2 cups cooked beans, fresh or dried (such as cannellini, borlotti or cranberry) or 1 14-oz. can cannellini or kidney beans, rinsed
1 pound green beans (or half green and half wax beans), ends trimmed, beans snapped in two
3/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
2 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped
zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup olive oil
juice of 1/2 or 1 whole lemon, depending on how large
1 small shallot, minced
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook the dried or fresh shell beans according to directions. Drain and set aside to cool. Alternatively, open the can, rinse and drain. Cook the green beans (and wax beans if using). Place in steamer, bring water to a boil and steam for 5-6 minutes. Alternatively, cover in water, bring to a boil and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Either way, drain, place back in the pan, cover with cold water and ice to cool down and stop the cooking. Once cool, drain and dry with paper towels.
Place both types of beans in a large bowl. Add the parsley, chives, capers and lemon zest. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, the shallot, the red pepper and salt/black pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the bean mixture and mix thoroughly, best done with your hands.
July 22, 2014
Aunt Suzy says . . .
I have become enamored with farro, an ancient grain that’s a species of wheat. (I love this NPR article that includes a few recipes.) I saw this recipe as I was about to head out to the farmer’s market. Beets are just coming in now up here in Minnesota, and I love using both the beet root and tops in dishes. Star Prairie Trout Farm sells at the market – fresh and smoked – and I had some farro on hand, so I was set! We really enjoyed this and Randy remarked that he would like it equally as a side salad without the trout. A dry rosé wine was a perfect complement.
Adapted from Food and Wine
3 small beets (1/2 pound)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 thyme sprigs
1 rosemary sprig
4 cups water
1 1/2 cups semi-pearled farro (8 ounces)
1 shallot, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon honey
Freshly ground pepper
6 ounces skinless smoked trout fillet, flaked
2 cups chopped beet greens or Swiss chard—stems removed, leaves washed and finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 375°. In a small baking dish, lightly drizzle the beets with olive oil and rub to coat. Cover the dish with foil and roast for about 1 hour, until the beets are tender. Let cool, then peel the beets and cut into 1/2-inch dice.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, water and 2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Stir in the farro and simmer over moderate heat until just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well and transfer the farro to a bowl. Discard the garlic and herbs. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
In a small bowl, combine the shallot, lemon juice and honey. Gradually whisk in the 1/3 cup of oil and season with salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, toss 2 tablespoons of the dressing with the trout.
To the farro, add the diced beets, the chopped greens and the remaining dressing and toss gently. Season with salt and pepper and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Transfer the salad to a serving platter, scatter the trout on top and serve. (I think this could also be served slightly warm. Definitely the flavors will be more pronounced if not chilled before serving.)
July 21, 2014
This pasta salad caught my eye on “Food and Wine” because of the olives and tomatoes…I really love that combo of flavors in a pasta salad. But what made this excellent is the mixed herb pesto that you toss it with, and the shaved pecorino that you toss in after it’s completely cooled, so that it doesn’t melt. This dish has a ton of flavor and will be in regular rotation on our “pasta Wednesdays” in the summer!
Penne with Herbs, Tomatoes, Olives and Pecorin0
adapted from Food and Wine
1 pound penne
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves, halved
2 teaspoons coarsely chopped thyme
2 teaspoons coarsely chopped marjoram
1 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes—halved, seeded and quartered
1/3 cup Calamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 cup coarsely grated Tuscan Pecorino cheese (3 ounces)
Freshly ground pepper
Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain the penne and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large serving bowl. Let sit to get to room temperature.
Meanwhile, in a blender, puree the basil, parsley, garlic, thyme, marjoram with 1/3 cup of olive oil. Add more olive oil if you think it’s necessary…the original recipe called for 1/2 cup, but I felt that was a little much. Scrape into the bowl with the pasta and season with salt, then toss together.
Then toss in the tomatoes and olives and let stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes to develop flavor. Just before serving, add the Pecorino, season with salt and pepper and toss well.
July 12, 2013
Aunt Suzy says . . .
I love when things just come together. Last week I wanted to take some summer salads to a friend and her husband who recently had a baby. I had most of a rotisserie chicken in the fridge and thought “chicken salad”! But then felt a little discouraged because I’ve only made very simple chicken salads in the past – I love them, but would not feel good about giving them as a gift. So I went to Smitten Kitchen, where I go when in need of some good ideas, and was delighted to find this recipe. My friend Jane is of Ukrainian/Georgian heritage where lots of dishes have walnuts and tarragon in them. Shazam! Everyone, me included, deemed it a hit! When Margaux saw it on Pinterest, she said “Yum”, so decided to try it out with her family. One thing that Deb of SK said is that her husband doesn’t like chicken salad, so I was wondering about Jason’s reaction. Jane’s hubbie, Cameron, liked it a lot. Randy already said he’s not interested in trying it, but that won’t stop me from making it again!
Margaux says . . .
I was a little worried, actually, about whether Jason would like it or not. Sometimes he’s really picky about things like that, and will only like traditional style, especially if it has something sweet in it like craisins or grapes. But, to my surprise, he loved it! I think it was the brined chicken…it was very tender and delicious (see instructions below). This salad will definitely be on heavy rotation this summer.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
4 cups cubed (1/2 inch) cooked chicken (AS used leftover rotisserie chicken, Margaux brined some chicken breasts, see below)
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 celery rib, diced into small bits (1 cup) (AS used 3 medium celery ribs, Margaux used just one)
2 or more tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1 cup dried cranberries (AS would use less next time, but everone else liked this amount)
1/2 to 3/4 cup mayonnaise (AS used 1/2 cup mayo, Margaux used 3/4 cup…she likes mayo!)
3 tablespoons vinegar, tarragon, if you have it,champagne or white wine (AS used juice from 1/2 lemon)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon or herb or your choice (AS used probably 1/4 cup tarragon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Throw the first 5 ingredients into a large bowl. Make a dressing by combining the mayo, vinegar or lemon and the salt and pepper. Whisk to blend. Add the dressing to the bowl and stir (or use hands) to combine thoroughly. This can be done ahead of serving. Add the tarragon before serving and stir to combine.
Brining and poaching the chicken:
Dissolve 2 tbsp table salt in 2 cups of water in a medium bowl or gallon sized Ziplock baggie. Add 1 3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts to it and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove chicken, rinse and pat dry before using. Then poach it in water for 15-20 minutes, until the internal temp reaches 160 degrees.
June 19, 2013
Aunt Suzy says . . .
I learned about this salad recently when friends and I got together to cook Asparagus and Leek Quiche. It was a perfect compliment! I love both beets and fennel, so what’s not to like? It’s easy to put together once the beets are cooked. We thought you could add a little feta cheese and call it a main dish salad!
1 pound cooked beets, cut in small wedges
1 small fennel bulb, halved lengthwise, cored and thinly sliced plus chopped fronds for garnish
about 6 cups lettuce, torn in small pieces or use spring mix
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs like chives, parsley, dill or mint (we used chives and mint)
To cook the beets you can either roast or cook stovetop. For stovetop, place the unpeeled, washed beetroots in water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer at a gentle boil for about 20-30 minutes for small beets and longer for larger ones. Here’s a great how-to for stovetop cooking of beets. Remove from heat, drain and let cool slightly. When cool enough, you can easily slip off the skin with your hands. Let cool completely and cut into small wedges.
Make the dressing by whisking the buttermilk and mayonnaise together until emulsified. Add the herbs and continue to whisk. Set aside.
Wash and dry the lettuce and spread on a platter. Place the sliced fennel bulb on top of the lettuces, then the beet wedges. Pour desired amount of dressing over the salad. Garnish with the fennel fronds.
June 4, 2013
I’m kind of a salad fanatic, and it’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about having warm weather finally! So far I’ve made this pasta salad, several quinoa salads, including this one and this (which is one of my favorites), and I can’t wait to make potato salads, especially this one. Platter salads are another favorite for us, and we’ve already had my favorite Cobb salad, even when it wasn’t that warm yet. I couldn’t wait.
This is a salad that has become kind of a summer standard here over the past few years. When my son was an infant and I was stuck to the couch for hours on end either nursing him or “napping” with him, I would watch endless amounts of TV, a lot of that being the Food Network. I’ve always liked cooking, but I think that’s when I really got my love of cooking, and I would try out tons of the recipes I saw on TV. This was one of them, on “The Neely’s” (a show I didn’t often watch, by the way, but I’m glad I caught this episode). I don’t really ever watch Food Network anymore, but I’m glad I did because a lot of my standard recipes came from that year of watching.
Black-Eyed Pea Salad
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar (I have also used white wine vinegar)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, drained (or 4 cups soaked dried beans…I think that’s about a cup and a half of dried)
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together the rice wine vinegar, canola oil, sugar, and salt and pepper.
Toss all together and let marinate for at up to 8 hours in the refrigerator before serving.